Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-1-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 223, out of which 21 have come from a single nursing home in Tiberias. There are 322 people being treated in hospital, with 83 of them on ventilators.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a renewed lockdown on several Jerusalem neighborhoods, as well as on the southern Bedouin village of Hura.

Israeli schools will reopen on Sunday for grades first through third and 11 and 12. Many parents and educators are protesting the decision to reopen. The Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Bat Yam municipalities informed the government that they would not open schools on Sunday.

Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) children in grades 7 through 12 will return to school, as well as all children enrolled in special education programs. Private daycare centers can open, with up to five children.

It is still unclear as to what precautions will be taken, and what guidelines will be implemented, in the schools to protect the health of students and teachers.

The Tel Aviv municipality is preparing guidelines for the reopening of the city’s restaurants. The restaurants will be required to move their tables outside and be at least two meters apart.

Syrian media and opposition sources are reporting that Israeli helicopters fired several rockets from the Golan Heights on targets near Quneitra. Israel did not comment.

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-27-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 202. There are 303 people being treated in hospital, with 96 of them on ventilators. Only 23 new cases have been reported.

Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Shin Bet (the internal security service) to stop tracking the cell phones of coronavirus patients. The court ruled that the tracking required legislation to legalize it. The order will take effect on April 30th. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz condemned the High Court ruling as “excessive and unnecessary intervention.”

Heath Minister Yaakov Litzman has announced that he will be resigning from his ministry post after heading it for over a decade, saying that he feels that he has done all he can for the ministry. Many sources, however, believe that the Rebbe of Gur, the leader of the largest Hassidic group in Israel of which Litzman is a member, ordered Litzman to resign because he was unhappy that Litzman imposed lockdowns on ultra-Orthodox areas during the current pandemic.

Litzman is now slated to receive the housing and construction portfolio, but sources say that there are some within his own party (UTJ) that are trying give the portfolio to MK Moshe Gafni. Gafni apparently would prefer to remain the head of the Knesset’s Finance Committee. But the severe housing shortage in the ultra-Orthodox community makes the portfolio a vital priority for the party.

The Health Ministry is slated to go to current Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, but Blue and White is trying to get the ministry for itself. Let the horse trading begin!

Beginning tonight, Israel will commemorate Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron), to remember and pay tribute to the 23,816 men and woman who died defending the country since 1873, and to the 4,166 victims of terror. As a result of the pandemic, all cemeteries will be closed starting today and the entire country will be under lockdown for Israel Independence Day, which begins on Tuesday night.

Israel will turn 72 on this Independence Day, with a population of 9.19 million.The population has grown by 1.9% or 171,000 since last Independence Day. Over the year, 180,000 babies were born, 32,000 people immigrated to Israel and 44,000 people died.

Syrian media reported an Israeli air strike against Iranian and Hezbollah bases in the Damascus area last night in which 4 militants were killed.

The membership of the Labor party, with only 3 seats, has voted to join the coalition government, which its leaders had already done on their own last week.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-24-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 193. There are 107 people on ventilators. Only 79 new cases have been reported.

The government today approved further lifting of coronavirus restrictions, which includes the reopening of all street shops, barbershops and beauty salons, beginning on Sunday. Shopping malls and gyms will remain closed. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out in addition to delivery.

The Health Ministry said it is the duty of each business owner to prevent large gatherings of customers outside the entrance. Owners also must put up signs at every entrance telling customers how many people are allowed inside. An employee must be placed at the entrance of each business equipped with digital thermometers to measure the temperature of each customer. Employees at barbershops and beauty salons must wear gloves, which have to be changed between each client, as well as protective face gear.

The Health Ministry is debating whether to quarantine the southern city of Netivot, due to the sharp increase in coronavirus cases apparently caused by 2 large seders on the first night of Passover.

The government today approved an NIS 8 billion ($2.27 billion) plan to increase support for self-employed Israelis and small business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The plan includes a grant of up to NIS 400,000 per business, depending on how much it has been impacted by the current crisis. It also includes a second stipend for self-employed workers and for people over 67 who have lost their jobs.

Unemployment in Israel had risen to 27.05 percent, or 1,125,814 people, including almost a million who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, unemployment in Israel was at a record low of under 4%.

The International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday delivered vital medical equipment to Gaza, including ventilators, to battle a possible coronavirus outbreak. The virus currently seems to be contained in Gaza.

While most Israelis stay close to home, construction crews are hard at work repairing and upgrading roads. They are also working on other large projects. Some of the biggest projects, like the final stretch of a new fast train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or the expansion of a highway in central Israel, will now be finished six months to a year ahead of schedule. A main street where part of Tel Aviv’s new subway is being built will be closed for 10 days rather than five weeks. The government has injected over 1 billion shekels ($280 million) into the accelerated building effort.

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz and MK Itzik Shmuli signed an agreement with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz today to join the new government coalition. Peretz will become Economy Minister and Shmuli will become Social Welfare Minister. The Labor leaders did not bring their decision to join the coalition to a vote of their party’s membership. Labor MK Merav Michaeli, who opposes entering the government, was not informed before the agreement was signed.

Audio for 4-24-2020

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-22-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 187. There are 111 people on ventilators. The government approved a lockdown for Israel Independence Day next week, similar to the Passover lockdown. A curfew will also be imposed in Arab communities from 6 pm to 3 am every day during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Thursday. Normally on Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and usually gather for meals at night.

A 20 year old Israeli border policeman was moderately wounded today in a stabbing attack at a checkpoint near Ma’ale Adumim, an Israeli city south of Jerusalem in Judea (West Bank). The terrorist initially hit the soldier with his vehicle then got out of the car and stabbed him. Other troops at the checkpoint opened fire and killed the terrorist. An improvised explosive device was found at the scene.

Security forces today demolished six illegal structures near the Yitzhar settlement in Samaria (the northern West Bank). The structures were erected by Jewish settlers.

The alleged Israeli air attack that Syrian media reported hit the city of Palmyra in eastern Homs on Monday night reportedly killed 9 militants.

Audio for 4-22-2020

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-21-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronovirus in Israel have risen to 181. There are 113 people on ventilators.

PM Netanyahu and Benny Gantz have finally agreed to form a government. Netanyahu will be PM for the first 18 months and Gantz will be defense minister. Then Gantz will become PM for the following 18 months.

The government is expected to include 32 ministers and more than a dozen deputy ministers, making it the largest in Israel’s history.

Gantz’s political partner Gabi Ashkenazi will serve as foreign minister during the first 18 months. Blue and White will also receive the justice, immigration and absorption, culture and sports, economics and welfare, communications, agriculture, strategic issues, tourism, social equality, and diaspora affairs ministries. Netanyahu will have veto power over the appointment of the attorney general and state prosecutor.

The unity agreement includes a clause that states that Israel will assume sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) on July 1.

Syrian media reported that an Israeli air attack hit the city of Palmyra in eastern Homs, where Iranian backed militias are based. Israel did not comment.

Today is Yom Hashoah, when we remember and honor the memories of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. On the Hebrew calendar it marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (although not the exact date).

In these difficult times of battle against the coronavirus, it is even more challenging than usual to focus on remembering the holocaust and paying tribute to the memories of those lost and those who survived, and to honor the ever shrinking number of survivors still with us.

But it behooves us to take some time today to stop and reflect on the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, and pledge to never let it happen again.

There are plenty of online resources that can help us remember and reflect. There are movies and survivor testimonies on You Tube. There is yadvashem.org.

To watch a documentary called Hidden, about hidden Jewish children during the holocaust, click here.

Here are a few testimonies from the murderers and witnesses:

Testimony of Ukrainian women – witnesses to murder of Jewish population of Sataniv:

“The Jews were walled up under the marketplace in a cellar. The Germans had burned some straw to make smoke and smother them. Then, after closing the door, they had piled 2 meters of earth on top. For four days afterwards the Jews had tried to get out. People saw the ground of the marketplace moving. On the fifth day the silence was total.”

Testimony from the village of Berniki:

“We are going to tell the truth. You see the house down there on the left, the modern house? Well, down there he hid Jews during the war. He hid a lot. And each time he killed them during the night. He smothered them with quilts. When they were dead, he stripped them and took their bodies to the quarry to get rid of them.“

Source – “The Holocaust by Bullets” by Father Patrick Desbois

From the testimony of Joseph F., a German soldier stationed in Kerch, Crimea, who witnessed the mass execution of hundreds of Jews.

“I climbed up onto the embankment I have already mentioned and saw a heap of clothes, children’s shoes and hats lying right there. I also saw piles of watches. Trucks full of men, women and children were arriving. The trucks arrived at the road and after they stopped, the people were pulled out by Russian civilians overseen by an SS guard. If they didn’t go fast enough, they were hurried along with sticks until they were all assembled on the embankment.

On the other side of the embankment, the Jews had to take off their clothes. If they didn’t do this fast enough, their clothes were ripped off by the Russians and two or three SS guards. If the Jews hadn’t known before, now they discovered what was to become of them. Some moan too loud, but most of the older Jews clasp their hands and look toward the sky. It was always the same image; they clasp their hands the way we do at home to ask for something and looked up at the sky.

When the children had nice shoes, they were pulled off by the Russians and the SS. The firing squad was composed of five or six SS. Once they were in front of the shooters, the Jews had to jump into the anti-tank ditch and stand against the straight wall. From there, it all went very fast. As soon as they were all inside, there was firing and the people slid to the ground.

I noticed among the women a man who was obviously paralyzed. He was big and fat. He was dragged to the execution spots by two 12 to 14 year old boys. The two boys took him by the shoulders but had to keep putting him down because he was so heavy. When they put him down, another Russian would hit and push them.

Then I noticed a very handsome couple with two small children. The husband and wife were very well-dressed. You could see right away that they were fine people. This couple was in one of the groups that the Russian civilian was bringing toward the firing squad. The woman had a child of about one in her arms, and the couple was leading another child of three or four by the hand. Once they were facing the firing squad, I saw the man ask for something. He had probably asked for permission to hold his family in his arms one last time, because I saw him embrace his wife and the child she was holding. But at the same moment, the shots were fired and everyone fell to the ground. I watched those people all the way to the firing squad because they were such a handsome couple and they had two children.”

The soldier then continues to describe the murder of Jewish children.

“Most of the time the children knocked over by their falling mother’s sat on the ground or on their mothers bodies without really understanding what had just happened. I saw how they climbed on their mothers among the dead women. They looked around and definitely did not understand what was going on. I still have the image very clearly before my eyes; they looked up with their big eyes and scared expressions at the shooters. They were too terrified to cry.

Twice I saw an SS go down into the ditch with a rifle and kill the children, who were sitting on the dead or on their own mothers, with one shot to the nape of the neck. As I’ve said, they weren’t crying, but looking around in shock. I think he was aiming for the head with his gun. At least, he held the barrel not far from the head, because I noticed almost no space between the head and the barrel. The children I saw struggling to move here and there range from babies to children of two or three years.”

Source – “The Holocaust by Bullets” by Father Patrick Desbois

Testimony from the book, “The Death Brigade” by Leon W. Wells
“I worked at the firm of Feder and Daumen at 5 Zrodlanej street with my two daughters. One was 17, the other 15. After the liquidation of the ghetto we were hidden in the company’s building. The director of this firm took everything away from us. Then the gestapo came and brought us here; my two children and I.

This was a few days ago. Today they took us, together with you, to the sands, and I was separated from my two daughters. I, as everyone else, went down to the ravine. After a long time, about 15 people were selected and taken to the place where we left the women and children in the morning. And they were all, and my two daughters among them, lying dead … shot. What girls, beautiful, intelligent, what I wouldn’t have done for them… they told us to make a fire, and we threw all the bodies into it, my children, too.”

“The SS shot a woman. The woman’s child is sitting next to her in a puddle of blood with her head on her dead mother’s breast, sleeping. An SS man wakes the child by whipping her. She must go with the other children to the sands. The child screams in terror, “mother, it hurts!” the child gets up and starts to run, and the SS man goes after her. The child yells, and the murderer decides to shoot her on the spot. He reaches for his pistol, and shoots.”

Let us take a pledge on this Yom Hashoah to never let the horrors of the Holocaust happen again, to any people, anywhere.

May the memories of the six million serve as a blessing for us.

Audio for 4-21-2020

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Audio for 4-20-2020

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